The 10 Worst Seattle Suburbs

The worst Seattle suburbs are Tukwila and Algona based on Saturday Night Science. Find out where your town ranks.

More and more people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Seattle to avoid all the hustle and bustle.

So the question arises: what suburbs of Seattle are the worst?

Today, we’ll use Saturday Night Science to determine which Seattle ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Seattle area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of the suburbs to live up to Seattle proper, although Mercer Island certainly tries.

We examined the 54 biggest suburbs of Seattle to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Washington lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Seattle in terms of quality of life.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The 10 worst suburbs around Seattle for 2024

  1. Tukwila
  2. Algona
  3. Bremerton
  4. SeaTac
  5. Fife
  6. Everett
  7. Port Orchard
  8. Des Moines
  9. Kent
  10. Tacoma

Now don’t freak out.

What’s the worst suburb of Seattle? Tukwila ranks as the worst suburb of Seattle for 2024 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Or, if you’re thinking of moving to elsewhere in Washington check out the best places in Washington overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Seattle too.

The 10 Worst Seattle Suburbs To Live For 2024

Tukwila, WA

Source: Wikipedia User Joe Mabel | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 21,569
Median Income: $76,331 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $535,251 (7th lowest)
More on Tukwila: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

We’ll get the ball rolling with Tukwila, the absolute worst place to live around Seattle according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Tukwila beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 3rd worst in the Seattle area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 7th worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Tukwila.

You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area. There aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Algona, WA

Source: Wikipedia User brewbooks from near Seattle, USA | CC BY-SA 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,264
Median Income: $81,474 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (highest)
Median Home Value: $490,301 (3rd lowest)
More on Algona: Data | Crime

Welcome to Algona. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 23.8 miles to Seattle. Income levels here are the 9th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $81,474 a year, which only goes so far even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Bremerton, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 43,983
Median Income: $68,556 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (11th highest)
Median Home Value: $451,154 (lowest)
More on Bremerton: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Seattle suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Bremerton on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school dropout rate is poor compared to other Seattle suburbs.

But at least there are lovely parks to bring the kids during the day.

Seatac, WA

Source: Wikipedia User SounderBruce from Seattle, United States | CC BY-SA 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 30,927
Median Income: $79,433 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $538,091 (9th lowest)
More on Seatac: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

If you live in SeaTac, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 6th lowest Seattle suburb for median household incomes.

Not only that, but this is the 5th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Seattle. Remember, we looked at 54 cities for this study.

SeaTac is about 12.5 miles to downtown.

Fife, WA

Source: Wikipedia User SounderBruce | CC BY-SA 4.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,887
Median Income: $84,538 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (33rd highest)
Median Home Value: $530,444 (6th lowest)
More on Fife: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Fife has the distinction of being a Seattle suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Fife has the 6th lowest home values in the metro Seattle area, where the median price is $530,444. The median income is $250,001.

Fife has an unemployment rate of 3.81% which ranks 33rd worst.

Everett, WA

Source: Wikipedia User SounderBruce | GFDL
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 110,847
Median Income: $77,806 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $618,504 (18th lowest)
More on Everett: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Everett has 110,847 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom, and the poverty rate sits at 12.09655622349597%.

Port Orchard, WA

Source: Wikipedia User | CC-BY-SA-3.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,820
Median Income: $82,650 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (18th highest)
Median Home Value: $506,119 (4th lowest)
More on Port Orchard: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Ah, Port Orchard. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Seattle.

It’s the place with the 18th most out of work residents in the Seattle metro area (4.78%).

Des Moines, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 32,667
Median Income: $81,362 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $564,875 (12th lowest)
More on Des Moines: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Des Moines is a city about 15.9 miles from Seattle, but Seattle probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a worse place to live. Des Moines has the 7th most uninsured people, 8th worst incomes, and has the 2nd highest unemployment rate (8.23%) in the entire Seattle metro area.

Homes only cost $564,875 for a reason. That’s cheap for Seattle standards.

Kent, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 135,169
Median Income: $86,966 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.6% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $603,965 (15th lowest)
More on Kent: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

If you absolutely have to live near Seattle, then Kent might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Seattle suburb.

About 7.57% of residents are out of work.

Tacoma, WA

Source: Wikipedia User FlickreviewR 2 | CC BY-SA 2.0
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 219,234
Median Income: $79,085 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (12th highest)
Median Home Value: $463,801 (2nd lowest)
More on Tacoma: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living

Rounding out the ten worst Seattle suburbs to call home is Tacoma.

Located 25.9 miles outside the city, Tacomas is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 12th highest unemployment rate (5.35%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Seattle for 2024

To figure out how bad a Seattle suburb is to live in, we used Saturday Night Science to identify the kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.

Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2018-2022, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school dropouts
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

We defined a suburb as any town within 30 miles of Seattle.

We also limited the analysis to places with over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 54 suburbs to evaluate around Seattle.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 54 in each category, where 1 was the “worst.”

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality-of-life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index, the “Worst Suburb near Seattle.” We’re looking at you, Tukwila.

We updated this article for 2024, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Seattle.

Summary: The areas around Seattle where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2024

Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Seattle with Tukwila casting itself ahead of the pack.

The worst suburbs of Seattle are .

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Seattle aren’t all bad. Mercer Island takes the cake as the best place to live around Seattle.

  • Mercer Island
  • Clyde Hill
  • Snoqualmie

For more Washington reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Seattle Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Tukwila 21,569 $76,331 $535,251
2 Algona 3,264 $81,474 $490,301
3 Bremerton 43,983 $68,556 $451,154
4 Seatac 30,927 $79,433 $538,091
5 Fife 10,887 $84,538 $530,444
6 Everett 110,847 $77,806 $618,504
7 Port Orchard 15,820 $82,650 $506,119
8 Des Moines 32,667 $81,362 $564,875
9 Kent 135,169 $86,966 $603,965
10 Tacoma 219,234 $79,085 $463,801
11 Sumner 10,589 $83,285 $540,052
12 Federal Way 99,614 $80,360 $558,348
13 Auburn 85,623 $87,406 $570,116
14 Milton 8,543 $90,372 $535,284
15 Burien 51,505 $84,583 $605,886
16 Lynnwood 39,867 $72,241 $722,260
17 Pacific 7,097 $98,148 $521,184
18 Snohomish 10,133 $81,731 $872,921
19 Monroe 19,632 $99,713 $660,014
20 Renton 105,355 $92,292 $700,607
21 Poulsbo 11,824 $89,393 $619,283
22 Mountlake Terrace 21,350 $96,104 $634,570
23 Lake Stevens 38,816 $111,821 $656,462
24 Fircrest 7,098 $99,032 $587,271
25 University Place 34,696 $89,658 $621,099
26 North Bend 7,549 $171,078 $908,488
27 Covington 20,814 $123,065 $614,981
28 Duvall 8,128 $168,663 $899,922
29 Shoreline 58,673 $106,184 $761,022
30 Gig Harbor 11,917 $103,688 $758,110
31 Edgewood 12,397 $115,325 $673,664
32 Normandy Park 6,697 $122,467 $960,307
33 Bothell 47,917 $127,944 $954,899
34 Edmonds 42,705 $110,057 $846,640
35 Carnation 2,515 $134,850 $915,886
36 Brier 6,539 $141,200 $907,268
37 Kenmore 23,611 $132,191 $940,684
38 Newcastle 12,931 $151,007 $1,200,663
39 Bellevue 150,606 $149,551 $1,314,283
40 Kirkland 92,015 $135,608 $1,101,852
41 Mukilteo 21,365 $123,036 $867,388
42 Mill Creek 20,797 $118,276 $915,277
43 Black Diamond 5,314 $134,076 $730,492
44 Maple Valley 27,889 $137,595 $750,316
45 Woodinville 13,301 $142,500 $1,223,130
46 Issaquah 39,400 $143,006 $1,042,395
47 Bainbridge Island 24,681 $151,290 $1,164,814
48 Redmond 73,728 $155,287 $1,239,503
49 Lake Forest Park 13,462 $152,010 $942,509
50 Medina 2,923 $244,740 $4,292,352
51 Sammamish 66,586 $215,047 $1,457,780
52 Snoqualmie 13,762 $186,353 $994,921
53 Clyde Hill 3,108 $250,001 $3,898,869
54 Mercer Island 25,464 $190,985 $2,093,811
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.

4 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Seattle Suburbs

  1. Just the fact that Sumner made this “Worst” list shows how flawed this fake study is. Sumner has one of the best school districts around, it has a true small town flavor even though it is located in the middle of the Puget Sound metropolis, the downtown and surrounding area of homes is about as idyllic as you could hope for in a suburban neighborhood, The entire town is “Walkable” do to the flat nature of the valley it resides in. And on top of all that there is a Sounder Rail Station that makes it an ideal place to commute from. Excuse us for being reactionary to this piece of trash and frankly mean spirited article – but as far as Sumner goes, you could not be more wrong. Maybe if you pull your head out of your Urban snobbery sometime and give us a visit you’ll find out how wrong you are.

  2. And further more… Why in the world would “Low population density” be a bad thing?? I praise the Sumner City Council every day for NOT allowing gigantic Mega-Apartment complexes to move in and swallow our town (just as they have destroyed the other southend cities of Kent, Auburn and Federal Way). By design Sumner has an “industrial” northend full of businesses and warehouses (i.e. tax generators) while the original downtown and surrounding homes remains pretty much as it always has been for decades. This is the type of town where the 3rd/4th generations of families are graduating from Sumner High School…yep, obviously people are fleeing the town because it’s such a “pit”.

  3. Wow. So my community, Midland, is considered a “suburb of Seattle”…. REALLY? Since when? It’s not even in the same county as Seattle, and most Midlandites don’t even consider themselves a suburb of Tacoma, so certainly not a suburb of Seattle.

    FYI – the on-time graduation rates for FPSD has exceeded the state averages the last 2 years. If you look just at FPHS the ‘Midland high school’ the last few years, they have surpassed the state average on time graduation rate by 10-15% depending on the year. For the 14-15 school year, FPHS had a 92.7% on time graduation rate compared to the state which was 77.2%. GATES brings down the overall district percentage but FPSD still surpassed the state average and Seattle School District graduation rates.

    As for home values….

    Midland was founded in 1890 (originally founded by Ezra & Oliver Meeker, then established when the railroad tracks were met by the trolley track extension). Many of the homes (and commercial buildings) were built long, long go, and built as fairly simple & modest structures. We’re known for having super large lots – some covering multiple acres, with many others being large parcels at 50-150’ wide and 100-150’ deep. We’re quite rural in nature, even though our community abuts the south/east edge of Tacoma city. Many Midlandites farm on their properties, and some raise livestock & fowl. Driving through our community on any given day, you may see people walking a goat on a leash to the corner store, while at the same time, passing by an upscale bistro restaurant (opened by a Las Vegas chef who *chose* Midland out of the entire world to establish his fine restaurant).

    Midland is unique in relation to its people as well – people who have a strong sense of community, and who work together through Midland Matters, where 900+ community members discuss issues of importance to Midland – whether it be crime-related, lost/found pets, nurturing new & old Midland businesses by encouraging the full-on support of ‘buy local’ concepts.

    Our County Councilmember, Rick Talbert, has worked with us Midlandites over the past 6 years, and has brought us many great things, including an amendment to the county parking code, to allow Historic Downtown Midland to use the county right-of-way for public parking. Our downtown, having been built-out in the early 1900’s didn’t leave room for parking, and that created a huge obstacle for our downtown revitalization effort – so we fixed it and are trekking forth with great success.

    Granted, Midland has no sidewalks, but instead our roads are old, narrow, ditch-lined and dark due to an extreme shortage of street lighting. We have other problems too, such as a shortage of law enforcement. Not too long ago we had less than 3/4 of one officer per thousand citizens (FBI recommended standard are 2 LEO’s per 1,000 citizens), which is far lower than our neighboring cities, however that ratio affects everyone in unincorporated Pierce County–not just Midland.

    We are a proud community of people, and to be listed in this article based on stats that were gathered in 2009 (I worked for the Census during the enumerating phase that gathered the stats you used) seems a stretch. And back to the geography piece of it – Midland is 45 minutes from Seattle, and is in Pierce County, not King, so this article comes off as rather desperate, IMO, and surely if anyone were considering moving to Midland but read your article and decided not to because of it, then I must ask, what good purpose have you really served? None that I can see.

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